Harvesting Process

The process of Harvesting to Processing

Harvesting Teams


For the purpose of harvesting game each company utilizes the service of professional registered harvesting teams for the purpose of harvesting and slaughtering of game in the field.
Each harvesting team on average comprises of approximately 13 people including 3 marksmen, 3 light men 7 slaughterers/processors.
It is a requirement that each team is registered with the National Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF).
In order for the team to be registered with the department, the team has to pass an inspection process carried out by a State Veterinarian to determine if the team complies with all the requirements as stipulated in Veterinary Procedural Notice 8 (VPN 8).
Harvesting of game takes place throughout South Africa on both privately owned land and National Reserves.




Sourcing Of Game


The Game owner would either contact the company or the company would contact the game owner to discuss the harvesting of game on the game holding (Reserve or Private Land). The Game owner and the Company firstly agree on:
1) The number of animals to be harvested.
2) The specie of animals to be harvested.
3) The price per kg to be paid for the carcasses.
4) The date for the harvest to take place. Once the game owner and the company have agreed on the above the following takes place 1. Conservation Requirements 1) The game owner makes an application to the Department of Nature Conservation for a permit to harvest game mentioning specifically the number and specie of the animals to be harvested.
2) The Department of Nature Conservation will only issue a permit if the application meets all the requirements, of which there are many, notables being

  • That the animals to be harvested are not listed threatened or protected species i.e. listed under the Biodiversity Act of 2004 as Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, or Protected.
  • That the culling method to be used is not a prohibited method.

2. Export Requirements 1) The game owner contacts the nearest State Veterinary Office to inspect the game holding to be registered as an export holding. When considering approval as an export holding the State Vet follows the procedure as stipulated in VPN 5.
Some of the notable checks are
  • Is the holding where the game are situated, a disease free area
  • Is the holding a growth hormone free environment
2) Once the State Vet is satisfied that the area complies with all the criteria he registers the farm as an export holding, issuing a unique registration number.
3) After the holding has been registered the Company informs the State Veterinary Office of the harvesting programme and requests that the State Veterinary Offices make available a Field Game Meat Examiner (GME) to be present during the harvest to inspect the game carcasses and monitor the field operation for compliance.




Harvesting


On the day of harvesting.

  1. The harvesting team arrives at the holding and sets up a central field abattoir. The field abattoir is the area where evisceration and inspection of carcasses takes place. The equipment utilized at the field abattoir includes slaughter frames for hanging carcasses, sterilizing units, refrigeration (refrigerated vehicle),weighing equipment, hoists etc
  2. The refrigerated vehicle is parked at the abattoir and the refrigeration unit temperature is set.
  3. On arrival the Game meat examiner inspects all the equipment and documentation presented by the harvesting team to ensure all the criteria are met.
Harvesting (culling) takes place by use of the following means: i) Night harvesting.
ii)Helicopter harvesting. i). NIGHT HARVESTING Harvesting takes place at night, mostly during the dark moon phase, by use of motorized vehicles and spotlights.
The reasons for night harvesting are various but mainly critical due to the following: a) Due to the spotlight the game are blinded, do not run and are therefore less stressed. b) This leads to a higher percentage of headshots and therefore less meat damage and more humane. c) Results in more selective harvesting, removing excess rams or problem animals. d) Better quality meat due to low stress and therefore lower ph levels in the meat. e) Higher volumes can be harvested over a shorter period making the process economically viable and limiting the duration of the harvest to a shorter period reducing the stress exposure to the remaining animals.
ii). HELICOPTER HARVESTING Helicopter harvesting takes place predominantly in areas where it is extremely difficult to near impossible to remove animals effectively by any other means i.e. bush areas where road networks are ineffective or non-existent. By using this method of harvesting one can be very selective in the animals which have to be removed. Helicopter harvesting takes place during the day with an experienced pilot and a professional experienced harvester who shoots selected game from the helicopter. Each carcass is marked by GPS which is then relayed to the ground teams who collect the carcasses and return same to the field abattoir.




Field Abattoir


During the harvesting process carcasses are continually brought in to the field abattoir.
Once the carcasses have been eviscerated, heads removed, feet removed; inspected,
tagged and weighed the carcasses are loaded into the refrigerated vehicle.
Each carcass together with the red offal is individually tagged with a unique number for
traceability purposes.

On completion of the harvest the refrigerated truck is sealed by the state appointed game meat examiner and the carcasses are transported to the registered cutting plant accompanied by the inspection document, which gives full details of the harvest.




Cutting Plant


On arrival of the game carcasses at the cutting plant the state vet/Independent game meat
inspector performs the following checks:

  1. Agrees the seal numbers per the field inspection report with the seals on the refrigerated truck.
  2. Checks that according to the field inspection report that harvesting took place according to the regulations VPN 9.
  3. Checks the temperature of the carcasses on offloading (below 7ºC within 24 hours).
  4. Checks the thermograph reading of the temperature loggers, which record the temperatures from start to completion of harvest to offloading at cutting plant.
  5. Visually inspects carcasses for disease and contamination.
  6. Carries out inspection of the red offal for any disease.
Once the carcasses pass through veterinary inspection the carcasses are skinned, neck tips and feet tips are trimmed, re inspected post skinning by independent meat inspector and passed through to deboning hall for cutting and packing.





Traceability

Farm to Fork

why is traceability so important?

 

Traceability is most relevant when it comes to public health.

Whether we are talking about food safety or food defence, emergency planning can be broken into four phases:

Preparedness

When planning for an emergency situation, traceability provides greater visibility into a supply chain, thereby helping to be better prepared if something goes wrong.

Response

In case something goes wrong, traceability improves the agility of the response by all stakeholders.

Recovery

During the recovery phase,

traceability allows the industry and regulators to maintain or rebuild trust with consumers into the safety and resiliency of the food system.

Prevention

Traceability allows for the determination of causality of the problem through root cause analysis, thereby preventing future issues.

Traceability has become increasingly important. The global food supply chain today has evolved into a tangled web as companies seek to enhance their capabilities to feed the world’s growing population. While food safety problems remain rare, when they do occur, time is the enemy as public health and lives are at stake, as well as the livelihoods of industries, companies and employees. Being able to ascertain the origin of products, ingredients and their attributes, from the farm through food processing to retail, foodservice and the consumer, is critical to health authorities and consumer confidence.

Identification of carcasses in the field.

One of the critical functions of a harvesting team is to individually tag each carcass with a unique number. This information is captured on the inspection reports which contains all the other details of each harvest including; 

  • Place of harvest.

  • Date and Time of harvest.

  • Name of Harvesting team

  • Temperature recordings.

  • Chiller truck details with time of loading and time of departure.

  • Door seal numbers.

  • All details of findings during the harvesting process.

This information accompanies the load to the registered cutting plant.

Cutting plant actions for capturing traceability information:

  • When the truck arrives at the cutting plant the carcasses are separated into lots/batches per specie per farm as per the inspection document. Each batch/lot is allocated a production batch number.

  • A daily batch processing list is prepared in advance for each day's production. Details of the consignment of game are captured on a computerised meat management system by the cutting plant administration office. 

  • All carcasses are de-boned according to the lot in which they were slaughtered. After de-boning, the individual portions/cuts are vacuum packed, weighed and cartoned. 

  • All cartons are labelled according to content (product code), production date, means of preserving (chilling / freezing), a serial number identification seal(ZA – EXPORT) or label(XXX – DOMESTIC) and a pack ID/Batch Number which contains all details of the batch.

 

Physical trace of meat products: 

In the event of a recall, the Export/Domestic  number enables identification of the establishment, and the date of production and batch/lot number enable identification of the producer (farm on which the animals in question were produced). 

Reference to the tag numbers for the day will also confirm the specific identities, and ante-mortem inspection documents for that batch will refer to the health status of the animals in question. 

All daily report forms relating to each section of the cutting plant are filed and are available for inspection. 

 

It is therefore possible to have a complete record of the product from a carton in a freezer across the world right to the farm where the carcass from which that cut was produced originated.

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